Fourteen adults have also been "functionally cured" after they were given combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) for their HIV infection. [Warning: autoplay] They have been able to stop taking the treatment while still keeping their infection under control, according to a new study in the journal PLOS Pathogens.There is an important distinction between 'functionally cured' and 'HIV negative'.
MedPageToday pointed out that while the 14 adults still technically have HIV in their bodies, it's only barely detectable when using highly sensitive laboratory methods. Therefore, they are considered "functionally cured" instead of being completely rid of the virus....In other words, it's too soon to know yet if these individuals can still transmit HIV to others (though at least the likelihood of transmission would be lowered), and 85-95% of infected adults in the study were not functionally cured.
The findings suggest that anywhere from 5 to 15 percent of people are able to be "functionally cured" of HIV, the study researcher, Dr. Asier Saez-Cirion, told BBC News.
"They still have HIV, it is not eradication of HIV, it is a kind of remission of the infection," Saez-Cirion told BBC News.
In the case of the Mississippi baby, we know she was exposed to HIV, had HIV in her blood, and that at least some cells in her blood were found with sleeping virus—though we will likely never know if those cells were from the child or maternal cells that had been transmitted during pregnancy or birth. Was the baby infected with HIV and, thus, cured?
To many of the researchers at the conference, the answer is "no." It seems more likely that her treatment prevented her, after exposure to HIV, from being infected. The reason we give medicines to both pregnant women and their newborns is precisely to prevent HIV exposures in children from becoming established infections, an intervention that can decrease the rate of transmission from about 30% to less than 1% in optimal conditions.
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